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Past Issues

AEA Consulting: The Platform

Dispatches on Equitable Design 

AEA Consulting has a shared vision of an arts and cultural sector - and society - that celebrates the vibrancy of all people and cultures, in which we extend welcome without barriers and belonging without hesitation. This vision can only be realized if we first focus on challenging our own assumptions and experiences through an equitable and empathetic lens and then further extend these ideas into our work across the many elements of the cultural sector.

Over the last year, one extension of this vision we have explored is in what ways we can understand how to build equitable and accessible cultural infrastructure throughout the design process. Through a series of workshops in Summer 2021 and further conversations at conferences in the last six months, including a recent panel at the American Alliance of Museums’ 2022 Annual Meeting in Boston, we have been part of a consortium exploring what it means to design for belonging. 

In this issue of The Platform: Dispatches, we highlight that focus on equitable design. 

– Daniel Payne, Managing Principal 


Rethinking the 21st-Century Museum: Equitable Design, a series of workshops convened by AEA Consulting, Snyder Consultancy, and Perkins&Will, with the support of Agnes Gund, brought together a diverse group of professionals and designers in June and July 2021 to reimagine the future of the museum's built environment, recognizing the need to expand who a museum is for, as well as fundamental shifts in technology, visitor behavior, and community interests. 

To carry the conversation forward, a website was created to offer workshop findings to the museum community. Don't Call It a Museum offers redefinitions of the concept of placemaking that provide greater depth and insight into the dynamics of spatial equity and will continue to present case studies to demonstrate good practice and lessons learned. 

Read Managing Principal Daniel Payne's Perspective on a consultant's role in the early stages of cultural infrastructure development projects and why community participation is vital to the equitable design process. 

Read Daniel's Perspective.

Read more Perspectives at Don't Call It a Museum.

Oakland Museum of California via

How Do We Design Equitable Cultural Spaces? 

Following the series of workshops in Summer 2021 mentioned above, our team wrote about their learnings on the process of equitable design of cultural buildings and how to further the conversation. 

Read How Do We Design Equitable Cultural Spaces?


This week's roundup of articles focuses on the practice of Equitable Design when working on the development of cultural and public spaces, creative placemakeing, and more. The below articles have helped inform our team's understanding and practice of leading cultural infrastructure projects that focus on community engagement and inclusion. 

Some articles may be behind a paywall. 

With Black Chapel, the artist creates a space for deep reflection and participation in Hyde Park. Speaking about this year’s pavilion, Gates said: ‘Through space, the vessel produces ways of being together and ways of understanding each other by being adjacent to one another. Black Chapel is a vessel and a container for those who choose to gather.’ (Architect’s Journal

AEA Senior Consultant Natalia Vartapetova and Research Analyst Christie Lam write in ArtsProfessional of their recent work with the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre led by Nesta about how UK cultural institutions can ‘anchor’ and facilitate growth in creative districts. The article takes note of the City of Dundee’s ‘We Dundee’ community engagement initiative that creates a platform for the community to provide feedback as part of the City’s £1 billion investment to the Dundee Waterfront. (ArtsProfessional)

Artists, who are especially skilled at uncovering hidden connections, creating unexpected relationships, and crafting new beginnings and endings, can help designers better engage communities to take part in the planning of infrastructure projects, not just react to them. (Forecast

As part of the ongoing Measurement of Museum Social Impact survey, a national study led by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums and Thanksgiving Point to be published in 2023, participating museums were responsible for recruiting study participants, which proved to be a difficult process. This article details some of the museums’ efforts to find willing community members and provides recommendations on recruitment strategies. (American Alliance of Museums

The Kresge Foundation’s Rip Rapson and Regina Smith say, “let’s incorporate community voices – and local artists – in infrastructure projects from the very beginning to find transformational solutions to community needs.” (Smart Cities Dive

The Russian invasion of Ukraine reminds us how crucial our public spaces are for democracy. Strong public spaces promote the resistance and resilience of local communities. (AfterCovid.City

AEA Consulting is a global firm setting the standard in strategy and planning for the cultural and creative industries.

We are known for our candid and impartial advice that draws on deep knowledge of the cultural sector as well as robust research and analytical insight.

Since 1991, we have successfully delivered more than 1,200 assignments in 42 countries, helping clients around the world plan and realize vital and sustainable cultural projects.